Saturday, June 21st, 2008...11:09 am

Anglo-Audiophile: The Reviews » Radio, Radio: A Follow Up of Sorts

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I’m nearly done reading On the Radio: Music Radio in Britain and, taking into account that the book was published in 1989, this is my conclusion: Blandness creates blandness. The author often sights the British public’s complaint of radio being bland and not offering enough variety. Radio, including BBC and ILRs, then retort that the blandness found in radio is the fault of record labels. Record labels then say that they pick acts based on what is popular which is determined by music charts. The charts in turn were created by BBC and ILRs to determine what is popular so they “give the people what they want.” And so on and so forth. What little variety there was, and still is, in radio is sectioned off to after 7pm and even then you couldn’t possibly cover all the minority tastes that exist, at least not under the system described in On the Radio. Therefore, blandness creates blandness. While I can’t say the following with any authority, what with not having just read a history of American music radio, the same kind of problem exists in the US, except we only have a handful of non-commercial radio stations as compared to the UK were they’re major radio system is completely non-commercial. The interesting thing is that, for better or worse, when the BBC started their radio broadcasting branch, being bland was almost the point. The actual point, at least in the minds of the founders (and many of the higher-ups who still work there) was to teach the listening public about music. Such paternalistic goals still existed, though in a far less obvious format, during the writing of On the Radio and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they still existed today.

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